• WHAT WE DO
    WHAT WE DO

    Trinh Foundation Australia works to assist the Vietnamese people to establish Speech Therapy as a profession in their country. We collaborate with our Vietnamese partners to create ...

  • VOLUNTEER
    VOLUNTEER

    You can volunteer for Trinh Foundation in a number of ways – and you don’t have to leave the country, if you don’t want to. We are always looking for volunteers, to travel to Vietnam ...

  • CURRENT WORK
    CURRENT WORK

    TFA works in partnership with a number of educational and clinical institutions throughout Vietnam to deliver on our mission of bringing speech therapy to Vietnam ...

Volunteer Day stories

Our recent Volunteers Day in Melbourne brought together many of our volunteer Speech Pathologists who have spent time in Vietnam. Big thanks to everyone who attended. Margaret Pogos, who was a supervisor in 2014, was there – it reminded us to share her recollections from the time:

An Binh is a large city hospital where the primary speech pathology case load is adults with communication disorders of neurological origin. The clients treated by the students were aware that they had a special opportunity to receive professional intervention. They were highly motivated and very appreciative. Some excellent progress was observed in the space of just a few weeks. The students worked in their own language while the interpreter translated client and therapist communication for the visiting supervisor. Not least of their challenges was terminology. Many feedback discussions involved clarifying diagnoses of dyspraxia, dysphagia, dysphasia, dysarthria, dysphonia and other terms that many students grapple with.

Every day in the clinic brought new, original and often entertaining experiences. Vietnamese is a tonal language and is very difficult to grasp in a short time. Make a small error and you end up with a fish instead of a tomato. Pronunciation takes ages to get right but I did surprise myself and everyone else when I instructed a client in Vietnamese with the words ‘1 2 3, big swallow’. After that my repertoire slowly grew. If a taxi driver took me to the right place I figured I was making progress. As a visitor in the country it is empowering to have some basic language ability.

Some days started with relatives of clients dropping in cool drinks for our small team. On other days there would be moon cakes or surprise traditional delicacies for me to try. At times the students would bring in fresh oranges and when I arrived they would be busy making a large jug of juice. I was always handed the first and biggest glass. Food really does speak all languages and the students, our interpreter and I bonded over many wonderful but unfamiliar (to me) traditional meals.

Most of the time we had the windows open in our ground floor office and it was not unusual for people passing by to stop for a while and observe treatment in action. On afternoons when the rain came in torrents the noise coming through those windows made it difficult to carry out treatment.

It did not however deter the odd palm-sized cockroach from seeking shelter in our midst.

For me the benefits of the clinical supervision experience were mutual. It was a win-win situation.

I worked hard and returned home exhausted, but that’s what happens when you try to squeeze every minute out of every day. Living in HCMC for the duration of the placement enabled lots of bridge building at a professional level and wonderful cultural and life experiences on a personal level. After the working day there were sights to see, more exotic foods to try, visits to the tailor, trips to night markets, massage, manicures, pedicures, the list goes on.

This is a wonderful way to have an enriching professional experience while at the same time making a valuable contribution. I am looking forward to returning for the next chapter in speech pathology in Vietnam and watching this fledgling profession take root and blossom.

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Graduate Stories

How Vietnam’s first 33 graduate speech therapists are helping the people who need them.

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